This week the calendar flips from February to March. Black History month will end. I have tried but feel I cannot adequately express my gratitude to those who shared their voices with us: Kristan Pitts, Katrice Hardy, Scott Porter and Loretta Holloway. They were courageous, wise and competent in their attempt to help us ‘close the gap’ at First Baptist Greenville. Racism is a plague that persists not only in our nation, but all nations. It is the result of insecurity, ignorance and fear. Just about the time we think we’ve turned a corner in our national ethos…we realize it wasn’t a corner, but a slight bend. We still have a lot of work to do.

If I’ve learned anything this month, I’ve learned giving attention to race – simply putting it on the table, in the conversation, out in the open – is an important step. We have to talk to one another. We have to listen to one another. We have to get to know one another. It is only in the ‘knowing’ that we are truly able to love. If I do not ‘know’ you, then I only hate or appreciate what I ‘think’ of you. Keep talking…keep listening…keep this issue in the forefront of your minds and hearts. Keep closing the gap.

Black History month is behind us, but Black Future is welcoming us forward. The voices shared with us were embraced and inspiring. If you need some continued inspiration in your life, let me suggest you turn to those who’ve pressed their thoughts and feelings into film and onto page. Take a little time to watch one (or all) of these movies in March: Remember the Titans, The Help, Crash (adults only), 12 Years a Slave, Selma, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Lincoln, A Time to Kill, Hidden Figures, 13th (2016 American Documentary), and I Am Not Your Negro. (Truly too many to list them all.) Or read – reread – a book: A Raisin in the Sun, To Kill a Mockingbird, White Rage, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Color Purple, Black Like Me, Men We Reaped, The New Jim Crow and yes, even The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (Again, too many to list.) If you need a ‘real’ experience to keep you ‘closing the gap,’ look forward to our June BBQ with our brothers and sisters of Springfield Baptist Church – more details to come.

Do whatever it takes to lay ignorance, insecurity and fear aside. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.

— Jim